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This Reunification I’ll Never ForgetPosted Date: 06/14/2018
By: Tiffany Wright
I’ll always remember one instance where I was the family service worker assigned to a case that involved three children.
The children’s mom was working to overcome a drug addiction. Predictably, her progress was that of a roller coaster ride. When she was doing well, she was really doing well! Whenever she fell off, she quickly got back on track each time.
However, the last time she, “got off track” was around the time of the one-year mark in her case. That period of time is also known as permanency planning, but this time things were different – the mom was missing in action. She wouldn’t answer her phone or door, and there were times that she may not show up for visitation. Her actions were hard for everyone to cope with, including myself. Reluctantly, I had to recommend termination of parental rights (TPR), given the current issues and the year-long roller coaster ride she put us on.
A few days before the scheduled TPR hearing, it was on my heart that I needed to talk to one of the children. So I decided to go for a visit. The mom’s daughter and I played outside on the playground and talked about lots of stuff. I felt like I was interacting with a child different than the one I saw at the foster home or at the DHS office.
As I was leaving that day she asks, “Mrs. Tiffany, are you really going to make it so I cannot see mom ever again?”
She proceeded to make sure that I knew that her mom took good care of her, and that she loved her, and that her mom was doing the best she could.
When I left her that day I knew that there had to be something more that I could do. I knew there was something more that the team could do to help this mom. I decided that I had to see the mom at her home and attempt to reconnect with her. When I got there that day she was ready to share that she was back in after care treatment for her substance abuse, and she had spoken with her mental health therapist about ramping up her therapy.
She was also thinking toward the future – she was talking about when the kids came home and the services she would need for two of the children. After hearing her testimony I better understood her situation. I learned about triggers, her loneliness, and how scared she was for her kids to come home.
Unexpectedly, this home visit became a moment of personal growth for me.
When I left her home, I contacted my supervisor who supported my suggestion for a change in recommendation. At the termination hearing, I asked the judge for more time.
The judge approved my request and the mom capitalized on the opportunity.
Following the court hearing, I helped her create a plan to ensure that she had the appropriate supports and services in place, so that she didn’t feel as though she was alone. We planned for a steady transition for her children. Ultimately, the extra time led to a beautiful reunification.